NFC East Notes: Cowboys, Eagles, Giants, Redskins

     

Cowboys

Safety was seen as one of the Cowboys biggest needs this past offseason. Dallas was linked to but ultimately passed on big names like Earl Thomas and so far Eric Berry, and didn’t address the position until the late rounds. The reason: S Xavier Woods, who so far has shown why with his strong performance in camp. 

“I think he’s going to be one of the best safeties,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said via the Athletic’s Jon Machota. “When we were talking safeties (before the) draft … I’d run into him and he said, ‘Why are you so worried about safety? Got me back there. Why is everybody worried about a safety? I can do it.’”

  • Cowboys UDFA LB Luke Gifford has taken first-team special teams reps and drawn praise from Garrett, which is a positive sign for his chances at a final roster spot: “There’s a lot to like about Luke. He’s big. He’s athletic. He’s got a good feel for the game. He’s demonstrated toughness. I think he’s a smart guy, instinctive guy. Seems to make a lot of plays.”
  • Machota says QB Cooper Rush has separated himself for the backup quarterback slot. 
  • Garrett said the team released TE Rico Gathers because he ultimately “didn’t show the growth that we wanted.” (Machota)
  • Garrett said the team hopes to have DE Robert Quinn back soon from his fractured hand: “We think we can get it handled pretty quickly and get him back before the start of the regular season.” (Machota)

Eagles

Eagles second-round RB Miles Sanders missed the entire spring program with a hamstring injury. After the Eagles added Darren Sproles, there was some concern Sanders could fall even further behind. However, the rookie has been impressive in recent days at training camp, with multiple beat reporters and onlookers commenting on how he just looks different than the other backs on the roster. 

“He’s really just kind of started being able to get out there and be involved in the huddle and be part of the play call, be able to decipher what the defense is doing, react to it,” Eagles OC Mike Groh said via David Murphy of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “We think that he’s making good progress.”

  • Eliot Shorr-Parks notes that Sanders is receiving “way more reps” with the first-team offense than last week. 
  • Eagles DT Timmy Jernigan was initially cut by the team this offseason, but was brought back on a lower salary and figures to play a prominent role in the defensive line rotation: “This is probably the healthiest I’ve been since Week 6 of my first year (here in 2017).” (Zach Berman)

Giants

Giants WR Sterling Shepard is “95 to 100 percent” sure he’ll be ready in time for Week 1 as he works back from a fractured thumb. Shepard has continued to run routes and participate in practice while wearing a yellow jersey that’s supposed to indicate not to throw to him, although that “rule” has been followed quite loosely recently. 

“If I hit it real hard, it reminds me that it’s broken,” Shepard said via Stefan Bondy of theNew York Daily News. “But I try to catch it just with one hand and keep it at that. But instincts kick in from time to time. It’s pretty tough. You’re used to throwing two hands up. I’m not Odell. He naturally can throw up one hand. I don’t naturally do that so I have to hold myself back from time to time. But it’s a good way to work on my right hand, I guess.”

Giants first-round DT Dexter Lawrence was initially panned by some analysts as a draft selection. Because of his massive 342-pound size and role at Clemson as a nose tackle, some thought the Giants spent a premium pick on a two-down player. However, Giants GM Dave Gettleman believes Lawrence can thrive as a pass rusher and that’s been supported so far in camp. 

“The thing about him is he can do so many things in the pass game off of his power and just how big he is,” Giants C Jon Halapio said via the Athletic’s Dan Duggan. “He’s not even trying to bull rush, but he’s just so big he’s working his moves off of that. So he can do spins – he has quick feet, he has quickness. I’ve got my hands full with him, especially when he’s at nose and we’re trying to run the ball. He’s a big dude.”

  • Duggan notes CB Grant Haley seems to be safe as the team’s starting nickel corner, for this year at least. 
  • Giants WR Corey Coleman posted that he underwent successful surgery on his torn ACL. Coleman will spend the year on injured reserve for the Giants before hitting free agency again in 2020. (Duggan)

Redskins

Redskins HC Jay Gruden said that while first-round QB Dwayne Haskins came into training camp with “increased familiarity” with their offense, he still needs to work on understanding ongoing changes to their system. 

He came back from the break with an increased familiarity with the scheme and what we’re trying to accomplish with concepts we’re calling in the passing game; it has come a little more natural to him,” Gruden said, via Jim Trotter of NFL.com. “But it’s still a process. Every day we might change a formation or [make] some minor tweak to a run-game concept or a pass-game concept that just doesn’t register with him like it does with the other guys because they’ve been here. That’s the tough thing for him. The more you work, the more familiar you get, but you’ve also got to be ready for the new stuff, which he’s having a little bit of trouble with. But once he hears it and sees it again, he’s fine.”

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